Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Anniversaries October 25, 2012

Do you have an “anniversary”, a day that is significant on your journey? Maybe it’s the day you decided to stop trying to conceive, or perhaps it’s the date of a miscarriage or stillbirth. How do you deal with those days?

My friend’s father died earlier this year, and she recently marked what would have been his birthday. She gathered some of her family and “celebrated” in a way he would have enjoyed. Her friends understood it was going to be a rough day for her and we gave her space and offered to listen, if she needed to talk.

But how do you deal with an anniversary that many other people wouldn’t understand?

I don’t really have any of those anniversaries. My quest for a baby simply ran out of gas. I never actually conceived, so my losses weren’t marked by any particular events. But if they were, I would mark those anniversaries the same way I remember other losses.

I wouldn’t schedule any work events or meetings that day. In fact, I might take the day off all together. I would be kind to myself and I’d allow myself to experience whatever emotions came up or me. I think I would give myself permission to just let my sadness be.

And the following day I’d get up and get back on the horse. I’d go about my business and I’d keep myself moving forward. I would get on with my life and I’d make plans to make it the best life it could be, and maybe the next time the anniversary rolled around, I’d feel that pain a little bit less, but that doesn’t mean I would forget what brought me to this point in the first place.

That’s what I’d do. How about you?

 

Chero: Marilyn Monroe August 24, 2012

This post was originally published on March 29, 2011.

So many words come to mind when we think of Marilyn – bombshell, icon, tragic, to name but a few. Her image is universally recognizable, and almost half a century after her death, she remains an enigma. Above all, though, Marilyn Monroe was a star. She understood fame, even if she didn’t always like it, and she understood that her image was everything. She played the dumb blonde to perfection, but beneath that veneer, she was far from innocent or ignorant. You only have to read some of her whip-smart quotes to see that.

I have a special affinity for Marilyn that I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on. Her movies are among my guilty pleasures, with Some Like it Hot topping my list. There was something fragile and untouchable about her, and yet she had a strength and fortitude that I admire.

Marilyn was married three times, to James Dougherty, and more famously to Joe DiMaggio and then Arthur Miller. She never had children.

I wondered if she was childfree-by-choice, and how having children would have changed her life, her career, and her image. This was during an era when stars disappeared to quietly give birth and then reappeared on screen as stunning as ever. Motherhood and sexiness did not go hand-in-hand.

But in snooping around for this post, I discovered that Marilyn had suffered several miscarriages and at least two ectopic pregnancies that were terminated. For me, this information casts an entirely different light on the sadness I could always sense behind Marilyn’s eyes. Maybe that’s the unexplainable thing that has always drawn me to her.

Marilyn is one of my favorite Cheroes from this month, and she’s also responsible for the quote that stumped almost everyone in the Expressing Motherhood contest! Fortunately, Jennifer Segundo got it, and by virtue of being the ONLY correct answer, she is also the lucky winner! Thanks to everyone else for some great guesses.

 

My Pain is Bigger Than Yours April 16, 2012

Be honest. You’ve played this game, haven’t you? Someone tells you something awful, and you immediately weigh it against your own loss. It’s ok, you can say it. Tell you what, if it will make you feel better, I’ll go first.

My friend has suffered a series of miscarriages over the past couple of years and is now talking very openly about her infertility. She and I are kindred spirits…except that she already has a daughter. I have been supportive of her courage to speak out about secondary infertility, but that little voice in the back of my head keeps popping up. You know the one, don’t you? It’s the one that says, “Well, at least she got to have one baby. At least she got to experience pregnancy. I didn’t get any of that.” Have you ever caught yourself having those thoughts? And yet, is my friend’s loss any greater or less than mine? And does it really matter?

My thoughts on this crystallized recently when I started thinking about other losses. When someone loses a parent, do we dismiss that loss when they still have a surviving parent? If we lose a good friend, do we feel that loss less because we have other friends? No, we do not. And if we do, shame on us. How can you put a value on someone else’s grief?

And yet we do it all the time. All of us here have dealt with loss. Some of us have experienced childbirth, some of us pregnancy, and some of us have never experienced either. I don’t think that we can weigh one type of loss against another and say that one is worse or another is easier, because “at least she got experience [fill in the blank].”

Loss is loss, and it’s always painful. We’re all in this together, whatever our circumstances.

And now I think I’ll call my friend.

 

Irish Chero: Adi Roche March 16, 2012

Photo courtesy: Business and Finance

By Jane G.

Adi Roche was born in Clonmel, County Tipperary, in 1957.  She is a campaigner for peace, humanitarian aid and education.  She was working as a volunteer with the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1991, when she received a fax message from Belarus, a country ravaged by the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.  This message, which was to change the course of her life, simply stated “SOS, for God’s sake, help us get the children out!”.  So began her life’s work, to establish Chernobyl Children’s Project International, which since its establishment in Ireland in 1991 has delivered over €80 million in aid to the areas most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and has brought over 13,000 children to Ireland on rest and recuperation vacations, some for life saving surgery. The organization expanded into the USA in 2001.

For her work with CCPI, Adi has been honored by various awards: the Medal of Francysk Skaryna (by the Belarusian Government), the European Woman Laureate Award, Irish Person of the Year, the European Person of the Year award, The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the World of Children’s 2010 Health Award.  She lives in Cork, with her husband of several years, Sean Dunne.  They have no children of their own.

In an interview in Hot Press magazine in 1997, she stated that she had suffered a number of miscarriages in the early years of her marriage.  Because she subsequently chose to pursue a career of humanitarian work involving exposure to areas of high level radioactive contamination, and because of the sheer time commitment her work takes up, she and her husbanded decided to remain childfree.  In another interview she is quoted as saying ” the day we cannot shed a tear for another human being or feel an emotion about the suffering or the agony of another human being, no matter what part of the world they are in, is the day I think we switch the light off on the planet, because we have lost who we are as a species and we have lost our sense of responsibility of being part of the human family”.   A mother not in the conventional sense, but a mother to thousands of children none the less, Adi is the person whom I proudly nominate as an Irish chero.

Jane G is 42 year old Irish woman, who is married and childless not by choice.  She lives in County Tipperary with her husband and three cats, and works in the field of finance.  She and her husband recently became involved as a host family with the Chernobyl Lifeline Ireland project, an organization which arranges rest and recuperation visits to Ireland for children from disadvantaged areas of Belarus.  Read about their life changing experience with their two adorable seven-year-old Belarussian guests here.

 

Walk a Mile in my Shoes January 9, 2012

I never thought I’d be sitting here defending the Duggars, but here I am.

I realize this is old news, but I keep thinking about the photo that circulated of their miscarried baby. When I first heard about it, I rolled my eyes. That’s my standard response to any news I hear about them. But then I though about it more, and you know what? I get it.

People who’ve never dealt with infertility, loss of a child, or even loss of a dream of motherhood, don’t understand that you never know how you’re going to react to a situation until you’re standing there.

You think you’d never use extreme fertility treatments…until someone tells you it’s the only option left to you. You think you’re a level headed person, who would never become obsessed with motherhood…until you’ve tried month after month after month and no one can tell you why you can’t get pregnant. And you think you’d never take a photo of a miscarried or stillborn baby…until it happens to your child.

There are people who think I’m crazy for the way I became obsessed about having a baby. There are people who say, “why don’t you just adopt?” to anyone who can’t have children of their own. And there are people who are appalled and condemn a woman who treats a miscarried child as if that child had lived.

To those people I say, “Walk a mile in those shoes.” Because you don’t know how you’ll react until it happens to you.

 

Marilyn Monroe March 29, 2011

So many words come to mind when we think of Marilyn – bombshell, icon, tragic, to name but a few. Her image is universally recognizable, and almost half a century after her death, she remains an enigma. Above all, though, Marilyn Monroe was a star. She understood fame, even if she didn’t always like it, and she understood that her image was everything. She played the dumb blonde to perfection, but beneath that veneer, she was far from innocent or ignorant. You only have to read some of her whip-smart quotes to see that.

I have a special affinity for Marilyn that I’ve never been able to quite put my finger on. Her movies are among my guilty pleasures, with Some Like it Hot topping my list. There was something fragile and untouchable about her, and yet she had a strength and fortitude that I admire.

Marilyn was married three times, to James Dougherty, and more famously to Joe DiMaggio and then Arthur Miller. She never had children.

I wondered if she was childfree-by-choice, and how having children would have changed her life, her career, and her image. This was during an era when stars disappeared to quietly give birth and then reappeared on screen as stunning as ever. Motherhood and sexiness did not go hand-in-hand.

But in snooping around for this post, I discovered that Marilyn had suffered several miscarriages and at least two ectopic pregnancies that were terminated. For me, this information casts an entirely different light on the sadness I could always sense behind Marilyn’s eyes. Maybe that’s the unexplainable thing that has always drawn me to her.

Marilyn is one of my favorite Cheroes from this month, and she’s also responsible for the quote that stumped almost everyone in the Expressing Motherhood contest! Fortunately, Jennifer Segundo got it, and by virtue of being the ONLY correct answer, she is also the lucky winner! Thanks to everyone else for some great guesses.

 

Death Penalty for Women Who Miscarry March 5, 2011

Ironic that, in this month of celebrating women who made history, this story should hit the headlines.

Kathleen Guthrie sent me this report:

As reported on MSNBC TV yesterday, Bobby Franklin, a Georgia lawmaker, has proposed a bill that would hold women criminally and legally accountable—and eligible for the death penalty—if they miscarry.

This isn’t just the case of one extreme politician. The bill has made it to the legislature, and similar bills are being considered in other states.

I am too stunned to be outraged yet; in fact the bill is so ludicrous that I find myself on the verge of laughing.

But really, it’s not funny.

The women who came before us fought hard for our reproductive rights, and yet it seems we are in constant danger of losing our grip on those rights.

I realize that this bill is a political vehicle to overturn abortion law, but what kind of a country do we live in where a law that would systematically wipe out women who are unable to reproduce make it any further than the first trash can?